Leonardo DiCaprio was the highest-paid actor from May 2010-May 2011, according to Forbes magazine. Last year's winner, Johnny Depp was down one spot at no. 2. Though both DiCaprio and Depp began their film careers appearing in mostly offbeat fare, their megamillions have absolutely nothing to do with daring professional choices: DiCaprio's estimated $77 million came courtesy of Christopher Nolan's Inception and Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island (photo). Depp's $50 million were a result of residuals and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Expect Depp to top the Forbes list again next year, once his percentage of the On Stranger Tides grosses is factored in, in addition to wages for Bruce Robinson's The Rum Diary, Phil Lord and Chris Miller's 21 Jump Street, and Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. DiCaprio will likely remain near the top as well, though Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained don't exactly sound like Inception-caliber blockbuster material.
By playing the same character over and over again in stuff like Grown Ups and Just Go with It, Adam Sandler landed on the no. 3 spot, with $40 million. Next in line were Will Smith – who hasn't a movie since Hancock and Seven Pounds in 2008 – with $36 million, and Tom Hanks, for his work in Toy Story 3 in addition to some extra change for the modestly budgeted flop Larry Crowne, with $35 million.
Rounding out the top ten highest-paid actors were Megamind/Little Fockers' Ben Stiller with $34m; Iron Man 2/Due Date/Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' Robert Downey Jr. with $31m; The Other Guys and The Fighter actor-producer Mark Wahlberg with $28m; and Toy Story 3's Tim Allen and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol's Tom Cruise with $22 million each.
Four actors tied in the no. 11 position: Mr. Popper Penguin's Jim Carrey, Cowboys & Aliens/The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Daniel Craig, Water for Elephants/The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and Part 2's Robert Pattinson, and Megamind/Moneyball's Brad Pitt with $20 million each. Bringing up the rear was True Grit/The Adjustment Bureau's Matt Damon with $18 million.
Strangely missing in action were Robert Pattinson's Breaking Dawn rival Taylor Lautner, who also starred in the John Singleton thriller Abduction; George Clooney, the star of Alexander Payne's The Descendants and the director-star of The Ides of March; Shia LaBeouf, who perhaps worked for free in Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; and True Grit/TRON: Legacy star Jeff Bridges. And did Daniel Radcliffe not get a percentage of the profits of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1?
Last month, Forbes' list of highest-paid actresses included Sarah Jessica Parker, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Stewart, Reese Witherspoon, Katherine Heigl, Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, and Cameron Diaz. The two top-paid actresses, Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker, each earned an estimated $30 million – or less than half the estimated earnings of Leonardo DiCaprio and $20 million less than Johnny Depp's. Neither Sandra Bullock ($15 million) nor Meryl Streep ($10 million) would have made the cut if actors and actresses were to be listed together.
Now, remember: those Forbes lists are anything but scientific. According to the magazine, the estimates are based on interviews with agents, lawyers, producers and assorted industry insiders. There's no mention of investigating actual federal income tax returns.
Photo: Shutter Island (Andrew Cooper / Paramount)